Transcript:

Alistair Jessimen

First of all, welcome. And second of all, we're going to ask you all about just how are companies thinking about benefits and not just from the social responsibility lens specifically. Although we will talk about that, because I know that certain companies are trying to help move in that direction.

But just in terms of the benefits overall, starting from one of the questions we asked Anna from the NFL, two segments ago which is, how has the pandemic really affected our employees and what does that really mean for the kinds of benefits that we need to provide to them as employers? What have we learned through that process?

And I know that both you, Peggy and Eboné, spend a ton of time talking to organizations of all natures trying to learn what we can from what other folks are doing. And I thought, we thought it would be great to have you guys come on and...Because at the heart of this, you could hear this from what Anna said from the NFL, but you could also hear it from Nick. None of these efforts are just one set of stakeholders and employees are at the center of every one of these things that a company or an organization / nonprofit does.

So, coming right back to the employees here is kind of the purpose of this...Of this session.

So, first of all, Peggy and Eboné, thank you and we welcome you. And I'm going to jump right into some questions. So, the first question I just like to ask is, is just, the question I was kinda leading up to before. Thinking about kinda the last 24 months or now unfortunately it's more like 36 months. How has the...How have employees and needs for benefits changed or how have they evolved with the pandemic? What's happening? What are some of the things we've seen, broadly speaking in terms of the ways we have to create a comfortable place for our employees to work.

Peggy Chevako

Yeah, thank you so much, Alistair. So yeah, thank you for teeing that up so well. You're right, there's...There's certainly been a rapid shift in what employees needs are and the benefit programs the way we think about them during the past two years has gone through evolution just like so many things that we've all been dealing with.

In part when we think about the fact that we're really not the same workforce that we were prior to the pandemic and employees aren't the same either, it's showing up certainly in many, many different ways and we know change is constant.

Now, it's definitely not static. We're looking at this as an opportunity actually to embrace the change and think about ways that we do work and build on a loving place as we think about a socially responsible lens towards our benefit programs and offerings, but building on that. There's a lot of challenges with it.

The crisis in the pandemic over the last few years has really brought through waves of psychological stress. So, one of the areas that's really been key that shown up is the mental health concerns that are evolving and with the uncertainty of world events kind of continuing, we're not through it yet, for sure.

We recognize from our employee's perspective and really just everybody that could show up in a number of different ways. It can be trauma, PTSD, anxiety, grief, loss, isolation, with people working from home. So, certainly been no shortage of issues that show up there.

We've been thinking a lot about how can we continue to deliver and also find more ways to provide meaningful support and a large part of that has to do with empathy and being able to demonstrate empathy right in from our manager perspective but in the way that we connect with our employee base and acknowledgement.

The dialogue is changing the awareness and the connectivity. When we think about the impact of an individual's circumstance and where they come from in their life and how that shows up in their experiences, but in also challenges that they're facing. So, from a diversity and inclusion lens, it's absolutely an awareness point.

Something that we think is so important. For mental health month is this month so we're hosting a host of events to have an open dialogue with people and really reduce the stigma as a result around mental health and the thought of talking about it.

There's studies from like the Harvard Business Review looked at how comfortable people feel talking about their struggles in the workplace. And you probably wouldn't be surprised in 2019 when they ran the study it was closer to, I believe around 60% of people who wouldn't feel comfortable and now that's even grown.

So, they looked at it again in 2021 and even more people are open and starting to talk about it more and we're continuing that trend as well. We support our managers in this way as well. So, helping them understand the importance of a safe workplace, letting people know they're not alone, thinking about and getting to know their teams, and understand what might be driving their experience in life and showing up in different ways.

So, those are a few at least when we think about the mental health aspect. There were other things too Alistair, but those are probably a couple of the prominent ones that pop up off the top.

Alistair Jessimen

Yeah, I think that certainly in our organization, in Institutional Asset Management® work from home has been very productive but it has been an area where people almost worked harder and longer and the isolation that came from that maybe didn't come through right away, but it certainly came through over time and it's still very much part of what we're working through as we bring people now back into the office more on a hybrid basis, it's something that we're continuing with support from your organization.

It's been tremendous, but it's been hard. It's been hard to get through those things and help figure out how to do the right thing.

So, I just wanted to maybe shift for a second and talk a little bit about PNC and you touched on this for a second and I don't know whether Eboné or you or Peggy would like to handle this one. But you talked about the social justice part of it. PNC's made such a tremendous amount of effort as many of our...As almost everyone on this phone call, whether nonprofit or profit has been involved in, in responding to the need for dialogue around social justice need for action.

You heard Anna talk about it as part of the NFL and then you heard Nick talk about it in terms of the investing needs.

What...How have we...How are we doing that...What are we doing from a benefits point of view or are the support we provide either in the investment opportunities in our 401k plan or in the...And I don't know what we can do there or in the activities that we support in the organization.

Eboné Lockyer

Because I think... And I joined the call at the time Alistair you and Nick were talking about the conversation that's changed with stakeholders and with employees and we're in this show me moment and the importance of as we were going through the conversations around racial inequity and the injustice, the listen, learn, act sort of mantra that we had through that. And I bring that up to say that that very much so has become our mantra. Not just benefits but when we think about our total awards broadly.

So, certainly we are fortunate, I'd say in the regard that being a self-insured in the employer of the size that we are that we have the data to kind of understand and be able to target where employees...What our employee demographics look like, where we see employees of certain whether it's gender, ethnicity, the income class, et cetera.

Where they're maybe not utilizing certain of our benefits in a way and we want to engage there. But I think, and this ties to what Peggy mentioned earlier in response to the, how have benefits changed during the pandemic.

One of the things that changed generally and I view it as a fundamental shift is through the pandemic there was this sense of we're all in it together, right? The empathy that Peggy mentioned. And as we're coming back into the office, Alistair you mentioned there's isolation and other things that folks are dealing with, we really have to be thoughtful in not losing that positive, I'd say from the pandemic in the, we're all in this together, humanizing our leadership, getting in different conversation with our employees.

And that's what we're focused on from our total rewards perspective. So, engaging in conversations with employees differently around here's your rewards, making sure they understand what's available to them, that personalization aspect to the point on just the very sort of demographic of our employees but.

So, it's not a specific, here's how we're sort of engaging in social responsibility. It's a thread that has to go through everything that we do. So, and Peggy, I don't know if there's anything you'd add to that, but that...I think that's a core, a core piece we don't want to lose, any of us want to lose coming out of the pandemic.

Alistair Jessimen

Agree the teamwork part of it and really the true teamwork of being able to actually talk about things. And so, bringing it back to that conversation though and this is something that Anna mentioned when she was on just the importance of how do employees have a voice in this? Do the EBRGs...that's -- it's our parlance for the groups of folks in different diverse groups that get together and have a voice and been a tremendous impact in our organization, whole variety of different things. Is that something where their voice is...Can we engage them there?

And that is that's something they've been engaged in there a little bit as it relates to total rewards and trying to understand the impact there.

Eboné Lockyer

Absolutely. Short answers to that is yes. So, I think our EBRG is a great example of that. And on an ongoing basis, we kind of organically get that, that feedback, but being, I'd say more intentional of late.

So, whether it's in partnership with our diversity and inclusion team and Gina Coleman and that team and being very connected there, that's another channel where we get good feedback anecdotally from employees in one off scenarios.

But also thinking through ways to get at the whole and engaging all employees more meaningfully, so that we can get a collective sort of almost data set, if you will, to really dig in and learn from what all of our employees have to say because...And some of this ties to let's say, a function of certain employee experiences or life experience, not everyone is vocal, right? Or the one that will reach out to us with the email or reach out to Bill our CEO or CHRO or others. So, us thinking about how we engage them differently is going to be critical.

Peggy Chevako

And our EBRG groups just to layer on a little is, are continuing to evolve. They are a tremendous resource for us as a way to connect and engage with employees on issues that are significant.

In particular, for example, we recently...A mother's group, a working mother's group has recently formed. And so, that's an opportunity for people who are looking to connect with others that are dealing with similar issues that they are and they can coordinate and organize together. So, we have a strong EBRG presence and we really leverage those partnerships to bring forward content, resources, and reinforce.

I think one of the challenges that we face oftentimes in our world is that we have...And I'm sure others are similar, right? There's a broad breadth of programs and resources available, helping people realize and remember and know what's available and when they can doc into it is certainly a challenge to EBRG groups are a huge support for that effort communication, education, awareness.

Alistair Jessiman

And are there any... Going back to combining that thought with the one Eboné that you mentioned a few minutes ago, just the data and so on that we've been able to gather in our gathering as we look at our own employee population through the lens of DE&I like the different groups, different, as you said, socioeconomic as well as diversity cohorts out there, what are the biggest surprises we've seen in terms of areas of need?

What has kinda jumped out? What are some areas that have jumped out where we've discovered we had more work to do than we might have thought?

Eboné Lockyer

I and Peggy, I'd love for you to add your thoughts to this too. I wouldn't necessarily call it surprising because in many ways we've always had a focus on this group, but I'd say in our retail organization. So our, what we call our frontline, a lot of our entry level or hourly employee set, that's a...They're significant almost a third of our overall employee population and that's also where historically many of our diverse employees sit in those types of roles.

So, one of the things that we've always paid a lot of attention to is how they show up, how they experience various of our benefits programs and I think Peggy is maybe...If you would want to add to some of that and our focus for that particular segment that's really meaningful I think to your question, Alistair.

Or Peggy, do you want to speak too?

Peggy Chevako

The ways that different programs and resources, the bigger...Some of the things that show up as bigger surprises. We...One of the concerns that we wanted to really address as we were working our way through the pandemic and we think about employee needs was the caregiver aspect and what a drain that responsibility that an individual may be faced with whether it's to support both financially or through legal and other logistical issues that caregivers generally are faced with whether it's for an elder parent or a spouse or other family member that was kind of a hidden...It's been a hidden population that we maybe had an awareness that there were those needs, but were really exacerbated and came to the surface in a way that we hadn't seen before during the pandemic.

So those pressures, when we think too about the financial impacts and the concern that might lead people to leak money out of their 401k plan, for example, to support is something that we concern about or the impact of them needing to juggle time away from work in order to support getting their loved one to a medical appointment as another example. That was a surprise and something that I think we worked to address in this year, we rolled out some paid family leave.

So, essentially two weeks of paid time that an individual could take for those purposes for care of a seriously ill family member to address it. And we continue to look at additional ways that we can support that population as well.

Eboné Lockyer

And I think that's…The frontline roles because in a lot of those instances, those are folks that can't take. It's very hard to take time away from work when you have to physically be there, it's very hard to kind of manage your family in the way you need to when you don't necessarily have the flexibility afforded by different types of roles.

So, I think that's a great example for that, for that employee cycle. And generally.

Alistair Jessiman

Yeah, and we saw it in our own organization, our investment organization that a lot of the folks that are in the middle office, some of the more clerical roles, one of the reasons they found to their own surprise in many cases that they really liked working from home and many of them didn't think they would because they liked being part of the office, part of the team, some of their support was there.

But when they got home they found that the caregiver roles that suddenly they had they didn't really think they would have before pandemic where everybody else was home were a lot easier if they're working from home or at least maybe not easier, but a lot more manageable. So, that's been something ongoing that for some of those and I wonder with, you know, our, again, the retail side of our firm that the whole care center which is the retail version of that same group probably found some of those same things. The caregiver side's a huge driver of this thing for many employees.

Peggy Chevako

Very true.

Alistair Jessiman

Talk a little bit about kind of the hiring side, because the other piece of this is that, again, for all levels of employees, every firm I talk to including our own has gone through challenges as the marketplace for talent has become tighter but also with the work from home, a lot more national.

We're hiring against salary profiles that aren't just in the city we're hiring in now, but really a national salary profile for certain types of jobs that may have been a little bit more local at least in our own thinking beforehand. How is that impacting the benefit side of things?

What's happening in terms of sort of the clearing of where we need to compete most from a benefits point of view?

Peggy Chevako

Eboné, if you want to I'll start and then absolutely layer in what you might add. But you know, you teed it up well Alistair and that the pay pressures have been certainly very real as part of the, for lack of a better word, the great resignation and the war for talent. So, many are looking for that but really I think when we think about the total rewards view and the fact that really pay is one part of the equation, our benefits are really an opportunity for us to be a hook for people.

And we certainly appreciate that it brings forward a meaningful way to support people from a holistic perspective. So, an example I'll give is that last year we rolled out in April a fertility program for employees who were struggling to conceive and there's a host of aspects like surrogacy and egg freezing and...In vitro fertilization.

I cannot tell you the ground swell of employee appreciation that we received from that and we view it as a really pretty strong attraction

were able to roll out in response to employee needs. So, this wasn't really in response to the war on talent, but it was essentially something that we recognized was really an important program and component to support people who were struggling in those cases.

So, that's probably a really good example of a way that our benefits program. But I would say even beyond that, we have a comprehensive program.

Of course medical is always important and I think our medical program is very competitive, and we rely on the health savings account. Think of it really as a third retirement program that we offer in addition to the 401k and the pension, given the features of an HAS and the tax advantage opportunity, but also the ability to take it with you into retirement and fund those expenses.

So that is also, recognized now in many ways as a valuable program or resource or support. Time off is another one that you can never underestimate. So, people really covet the ability to have that paid time off.

And we were able to execute on some changes last year and some of them applied into this year that enhanced the amount of time people had off whether it was for their needs, for illness, or personal needs that they had outside of work, vacation time.

We also offered a half day of cultural observance in recognition of the fact that individuals may have need to be off outside of our kind of formal holiday structure. And this gives them some flexibility to apply that time when it's important for them.

So, those would be, I would say some of the highlights of ways that our benefits program supported our pay program in retention and attraction of employees.

Eboné Lockyer

Yeah. And I'd add very, very tactically like to the great...I've been calling it the great R, resignation, reshuffle, rethink, whatever. Insert your favorite R. But from a hiring perspective, it's been critical, very...A tactical item to have your recruiting team well versed in all of those rewards and the holistic picture like Peggy mentioned.

Because the big hitters that always come up in the conversation flexibility, of course, we've talked about that pay, you know, obviously, but really being able to communicate that whole of what is available to employees and have your recruiters, those folks that are in the conversation as a starting point with the talent you're trying to bring on board is so important.

All...I'm convinced all roads through this journey that we've been on from a pay and benefits perspective have all led back to the importance of communication. You could have the world's best program, you could have the world's best right pay structure. If you're not communicating it effectively and appropriately and engaging employees meaningfully and helping them connect with it meaningfully, then you're not going to get very far.

Alistair Jessiman

Talk a little bit more about that. I couldn't agree with you more. How do we equip a...Well, couple different questions occur to me. One, what's the role of the CEO, of the senior executives to get some of that information out. This is kinda down the weed stuff in a certain sense, but it really matters.

So, how do we equip...How do we equip our most senior executives? And then the other side of the coin, how do we affect...How do we equip immediate managers to really be able to fully articulate and deliver the...Not just the facts, but the spirit of what we're trying to communicate in terms of the partnership with our employees.

Eboné Lockyer

Yes, that is the hard work and work that we're very much so still in the midst of and part of coming out of the pandemic. Why I've mentioned in that thinking of kind of what threat...What have we learned and how do we hold on to the positive pieces and carry that forward.

So, really for us and I think it's going to be important for everyone, rethinking how you educate and I'd go as far as to say train, although the word train gets everyone...When you mention training, there's usually a reaction, but how do you meaningfully engage and train and educate the leaders even.

So, we spent a lot of time employees and making sure they understand it and there's no scenario where it's personal, right? In the way that employees access it, and it's going to depend on their personal circumstance. But us rethinking how we educate all of the core folks that are important to employees in those moments that matter, so the senior leaders, the managers, everyone is a key work set that we're in right now.

Honestly. And it's not to suggest that we haven't done that to date, but in this moment, right? All of us sort of using this moment to think about things differently, I think that's important. So, I don't have the secret sauce or the silver bullet there, except to say like it's going to...It requires some, some thorough and very intentional work and focus.

Alistair Jessiman

Well, listen, thank you both, fantastic session. The conversation is not over. As I said, we are constantly in this conversation with every organization we meet. And so, thanks all, appreciate it and we look forward to continuing the conversation.